For three months, the question lingered over construction of Guthrie Cortland Medical Center’s new cancer treatment facility: Who was the anonymous donor who gave a $1 million matching grant toward the facility?
Nicholas Renzi, of Cortlandville, a retired Pall Trinity Micro Division president, in honor of his wife, Agnes.
Agnes Renzi would have turned 92 today. She died in February 2020.
“We had many friends who battled cancer, and they were my inspiration for making this donation,” Renzi said in a release Tuesday. “If you’ve had a personal experience with having a friend or relative battling cancer, you know what the challenges are for someone going through that. This new cancer center in Cortland will help make cancer treatment a little easier for those impacted, by bringing those needed services to our community.”
Leaders of Guthrie’s cancer center on track to open in early August as the Renzi Cancer Center — and the hospital foundation that has raised $2.4 million so far for the $10.6 million facility toured the building Tuesday.
The walls are a tidy beige, but the floors remain poured concrete. Part of the drop ceiling has been installed, but glimpses of ductwork, piping and other infrastructure remain. The room to house the linear accelerator remains bare, but the walls are 7 feet thick, lined with lead and are closed off with a 16,000-pound door.
“What we see today would have happened with the donation or not,” said Marie Carter-Darling, executive director of Guthrie Medical Group.
“There isn’t anything we would have left out,” she added, but Renzi’s donation, matched by others and for which the hospital’s foundation is still raising money, made the process easier.
Among the uses for the donation are equipment upgrades, software and advanced training, fundraisers have said.
“If you know anybody with cancer, this is a terrific thing,” said Deborah Nadolski, executive director of the hospital foundation. And she does. “It’s very difficult when you have to go to doctor’s office after doctor’s office.”
The 10,825-square-foot facility would be able to see 60 to 70 patients a day, Carter-Darling said. It will feature an on-site pharmacy, phlebotomy lab, radiation treatment and infusion facilities overlooking a garden.
All of that combines to minimize waits, she said.
And its location on Cortland’s north side means patients don’t have to travel 40 minutes to an hour to cancer facilities in Syracuse, Ithaca or Binghamton.
“There are a lot of people in between” those communities, Carter-Darling said. “This has been a vision for Cortland for many, many years.”
The fundraisers’ vision continues, too, Nadolski said. The foundation has raised $2.4 million toward a $2.5 million goal, but will keep working past that number.
“Our hope is that this generous charitable gift will inspire others to join in supporting this worthy cause and help ensure the cancer center campaign gains the necessary momentum to exceed its $2.5 million goal before the center opens this fall,” she said.
Renzi, she said, “is a great guy. He’s very thoughtful in his donations. I’ve known him for over 30 years.”
Renzi retired in 1994 from the Pall Corp.
As president of the Pall Trinity Micro Division and senior vice president of the Pall Corp., he was responsible for plant operations including engineering, manufacturing, finance and all support functions for the plant in Cortlandville and two Puerto Rico facilities.
He joined Pall in 1969 as a project manager in Glen Cove, but moved to Cortlandville three years later with a promotion to vice president of engineering at Pall Trinity Micro. He was made senior vice president of the division in 1979 and president in 1982.
He has served on the Cortlandville Planning Board, the Tompkins Cortland Community College Foundation Board and as finance committee chairman on the Cortland Memorial Hospital Foundation Board, pre-dating its affiliation with Guthrie, based in Sayre, Pennsylvania.
His wife, Agnes Renzi, married Renzi in 1959 and between raising two sons, transcribed literature into the Braille format, was a member of the St. Margaret Altar Rosary Society and a religious education teacher.
“He’s a very private man,” Nadolski said, “but a very giving man.”